Chasing Le TourJuly 15, 2017 in France
We checked out of our hotel, purchased some supplies for breakfast and lunch then said au revoir to Lourdes. Turns out that Lourdes is one of the top three pilgrimage sites in the world, and has the second highest number of hotels per square meter- second only to Paris! Who knew?!
Our plan was to watch one of the sprint sections of day 13 of the tour. We needed to get to Saix which was approximately two hours away but we anticipated road closures so we weren't entirely sure how long the drive would be. We set off with me assigned once again as navigator. Not my ideal way to spend the day. My stomach was in knots and my eyes were glued to the little blue dot on google maps. Tom suggested I turn the phone off until we needed it to preserve the battery, but I didn't want to risk it. Plus it was more comforting watching the phone than watching tom drive at 150 km p/h in a little ford escort.
As we drew nearer to Saix there were signs warning of road closures, so we made the decision to turn off the main road and take an alternate route. Immediately we were uncertain of our decision. The road deteriorated rapidly and felt like we were driving on someone's driveway. Not only were they gravel, they were narrow, bendy and hilly making it difficult to see if another car was coming.
I was quiet nervous, and we contemplated turning back many times, but then the road would deceive us and improve momentarily and we would push on. And yes there were moments of panic. Like when Tom dove through a closed road in a little town, or when the side of the road was a cliff edge with no barrier or fence.
For the most part the drive was spectacular, and we stopped at one point to stretch our legs (or Adalia's "old, sore back") and heard cow bells ringing!
Suddenly the road opened up and we were in Saix. We saw people with show bags so I jumped out of the car and left Tom to park, eager to get one of the free tour show bags from the caravan that drives through two hours before the riders. I must have just missed it which was disappointing.
Saix had a great festival feeling, and there were lots of people enjoying the atmosphere, so it made the wait less painful. We found our vantage point, which unfortunately wasn't in view of the TV cameras and ate our lunch-best quiche in the world again.
More and more people lined the streets, squeezing in for a better view. One lady literally sat in my foot and looked cranky when my hand hit her fhead. She didn't move, and chain smoked the entire wait! We tried to get sammy to stand his ground but he was intimidated by some men that came and stood in his spot. And Adalia passed the pine by poking the tree which was shading us with a stick.
Without warning three riders sped past before anyone was ready.
We were slightly more prepared for the peleton, but it all happens so quickly. I'm not sure I could be a dedicated tour follower, so much waiting for seconds of "reward".
As people piled into their cars, we stopped for a coke and contemplated the journey to Touluse. We did not want to take the scenic route again. It added at least an extra hour to our trip. Thankfully we took a side road that ran parallel to the main road so we could see when it opened. We discovered that our mornings detour that took an hour, only took 15 minutes on the main road!!! But didn't have the scenery, so we weren't too upset.
The kids were getting tired of being in the car, they had been so good up until now. So out came the devices. Adalia fell asleep to the sweet sounds of Peppa pig while Sammy enjoyed games on my phone.
The next challenge was getting the car to Toulouse airport. I was not looking forward to this. I suggested we follow the road signage that had aeroplanes on them, but tom wanted me to know where we were going on the map too.
Let me just say that I did an excellent job! I was all over it, in fact I was so good that we forgot to stay on the main highway so that we could get petrol at a petrol station just past the airport. Now we had to work out how to get back on, but then head in the right direction instead of back into the city. I was so annoyed, all of my great navigating and now I was forced to do more.
Finally we were done with the car, in a taxi and going to our hotel.
We checked in and then went to dinner at "Winter City". It was really good. I had salmon and chips and everything was delicious! Tom had duck and enjoyed his too. Unfortunately we decided not to have dessert at the restaurant but to find gelato instead. This proved to be a fruitless search as everything seems to close when the restaurants open- including supermarkets which was a shame as we needed breakfast stuff foe the next morning.
We found a small supermarket, bought cornflakes and milk and hurried home to put the kids to bed. We needn't have hurried, they were still up at 10pm, but when it's light until 9:30 who wants to sleep?!
Tom and I stayed awake for the Bastille day fireworks but our room was on the wrong side of the hotel. We could hear the bangs but that was all.Read more